Significant progress in National Gas Regulatory Reform
Since our last update on 18 October 2021, significant progress has been made in the ongoing review of the National Gas Regulatory Framework. The latest proposed amendments open the door for renewable generated gases to be transported and sold using existing pipeline infrastructure, by ensuring that existing regulatory arrangements and consumer protections continue to operate where these renewable gases are used. This is a natural next step in laying the foundations to expand hydrogen production and transportation in Australia. States and territories will need to follow this lead and implement the proposed regulatory framework, ensuring the products can start to be transported via pipelines.
The review considers the amendments to the National Gas Law (NGL), National Energy Retail Law (NERL), and related rules, regulations and market procedures which would be necessary to accommodate the introduction of hydrogen, biomethane, synthetic methane and gas blends into the national gas pipeline network.
The proposed changes recognise the opportunity that exists for green hydrogen and other renewable generated gases in the existing gas pipeline network. They are an important step for Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy and net zero commitments, as they lay the regulatory foundation for hydrogen and other renewable generated gases to be supplied using existing gas pipeline infrastructure, thereby increasing their viability as a utility-scale energy source. The proposed amendments are also in line with broader trends that we are seeing nationally to facilitate the development of a hydrogen industry, including efforts by the Victorian Government to decarbonise its gas infrastructure to meet net zero targets by 2050.
With several hydrogen trials and projects across the country announced, these reforms are a timely way of ensuring that the regulatory framework facilitates investment in this developing industry during its large-scale market activation phase.